by Dick Acorn

Editor's note: the following is an email stream from Dick Acorn as the takeover went down, and in the several months after the takeover, as its affects came to be. 

It's Official

Monday June 6, 1:22pm

It’s official, the company buying us has initiated their due diligence, the executives were here examining us like a prospective bed partner. When they arrived, I greeted them in the lobby, inquiring if they needed their shoes buffed, noses wiped, or pocket lint disposed. It’s hard to find a good pocket lint disposal guy, but I got that requirement, DOWN.

Hoping you'll stay...


June 6, 10:45 PM 

Message from Dick Acorn's boss: 

Earth-color has heard of the legend known as P. Dickie. They would be disappointed if you left - want me to convince you to stay.

Tuesday, June 7, 7:27 AM 

This has to be one of the nicest e-mails I’ve ever received, it sure is reassuring to think people like you and even consider you a “legend.” Obviously I’ll have a sober heart-to-heart with Nico. His cousin Augie who I used to work for at Infiniti and who was with A-P-T until a couple of years ago, is now a bigshot at Earth-color. He thinks I walk on water while recognizing I have a screw or two loose, he probably had something to do with this. Well, at least I’m not going to be tossed onto bread line like used pocket lint. Note the time that Nico sent this email: guy is a grinder he is always at work he is like a spook in the night in his office.. 

June 7, 9:00 AM 

All in all, as effed up as my personal and career life is, I make the shape and do what I’m supposed to. Keep expectations low and you’ll never sweat too much. Ambition to me is like doom: I have no drive to see tough things through til the end. I’m outstanding at short term projects which have immediate measurable impacts. I get things done in a hurry and when I get marching orders I march til death. But don’t put me in charge, I get frustrated and cynical too easily at the yo-yos who are supposed to do things but recognize I’m a ninny. Point me in the direction, give me some leeway and resources, and I’ll generally do what I’m supposed to. I’m a windup automaton with just enough free will to blow things to smithereens including myself. All in all the perfect “wild cannon.” By rights I should be a suicide bomber going after the Saudi Embassy to teach them gayrab effers a lesson. Live and die by the sword, my life is small potatoes to make a statement that us Americans can be crazee aholes too. I’m too scared to do it and I’d likely blow prematurely like I do everything else. I am on Miller Time now, I’m living life like a tenured public servant: a paycheck and no accountability. Dangerous.

Feedback from a friend: 

Now all you need to do is leverage your high standing to save Meeta's job; and let her know it.

June 07, 3:29 PM 

I have never told her how beautiful I think she is, I respect her husband too much to be such a wonking cad. However, now that the chips are down, the clock is running out, the ship has left the dock, it is high time for me to stop being reticent and letting her know my real, down and dunky feelings be. Today I complimented her on her new hairstyle, not quite telling her how good it really looked. She was coquettishly appreciative of these attentions. Next, I may comment on her lovely in, staring at her bazooms, "wow, what a pretty blouse." This is the direct approach an impatient imbecile like me favors.



Tuesday, June 7, 5:42 PM 

With the president of the company buying A-P-T sitting in my boss's office, and me out here in my admin cubie, my boss calls out in need:

"Ri-chert! Ri-CHERT!

Knowing that my every move is under observation from the people acquiring our company, and that the head guy is sitting right there, I exhibited amazing "jump-to-it skills" bounding out of my seat (nearly knocking it askew) and into my boss's office with a smile and a buoyant, "yes, Carl!" Standing ready to do his bidding and defend the free world against all enemies domestic or foreign. 

Don't underestimate the skillset necessary to create an impression so singularly subservient in the face of potential employers. When your career arse is hanging in the breeze, enthusiastically leaping around like Baryshnikov is almost as grueling as dancing Swan Lake.  

Tuesday, June 7, 5:57 PM 

Side Comments: 

I have to hand it to you.  To be able to project the persona of a gleeful crony efficiently at the beck & call of your master, while all the while planning his sure & slowly demise takes a level of skill & cunning that is beyond those you patiently plot against.  Good luck. -- David Dipietro 

Tuesday, June 7, 6:06 PM

Bootlicking is a tiresome course, but someone has to do it. The real skill is convincing people that I have value, when everyone on this particular email string knows I’m a class-A nitwit and wild cannon. Loyalty is my strong suit, and the Brusko value that as well. That is the key to my value both in my work and personal life. I think it’s a good value.  

Tuesday, June 7, 6:25 PM 

The funny part about this buyout is that there are many colleagues who think I have knowledge about their status in a combined company. I don’t. However, they think I do because of my proximity to the decision makers. These people, who frequently ignored my requests for help when I needed it (esp. when working on something directly for my boss), in effect dissing me and my boss, now think that I would betray a confidence of my boss! So they ignored my “referential power” when it suits them, but now they think I will help them in their desperation and are freddy fake freindly. Most of the people who are asking have good reason to be thinking they are going to be storm-tossed overboard, to float down Berry Creek, to the mighty Hackensack and out into the great Newark Bay and ocean realms beyond. I say, “swim for your lives suckers,” and good riddance. Having seen mergers up close before, I’ve seen this behavior exhibited and would want to reassure people, “don’t worry, it will be far worse than you imagine, loser.” This only applies to those colleagues who ignored their responsibility to the Head Honcho, and by extension, his faithful admin.

Wednesday, June 8

A message to Dick Acorn's boss: 
After spending a nite rolling on my tempipedic mattress like a barbecue rotisserie, counting passing cars and shifting blankets in the air conditioning, I have decided to wait and watch what will happen, and listen to see if there’s a role for me in this aborning venure. I am hoping that my sense of curiosity (perhaps morbid as it relates to the coming tsunami) does not kill the cat. Since I don’t travel, I guess I need to experience uncertain adventures in the workplace. Pitiable, but bearable. I don’t mind the job search, it’s the damn “dog & pony” aspect of it that murderous. I’ll get a job, but the indignity of being treated like a dame in a meat market is beneath my ability to suffer.

Response from Dick Acorn's boss: 

If its of any consequence, I don't know what i would do without you...

Wednesday, June 8  

Well, it looks like I may be around a while…that may not be true for Nico’s present admin asst if I read between the lines here.

Feedback from a Friend: 

Shep, Are you two married? 

Wednesday, June 8  

We are married in spirit, in the great contest of Life, we are two peas not of the same pod, but in the same patch. We both know how do things right and what “needs to be done”, our approaches are different, and sometimes complementary, and therefore useful to each other. I have a loving relationship with Nico like no other boss I’ve had or likely will ever have. Nico sees the devil in me and my struggle for redemption, I see the angel in him and his struggle to break ease the burden of his paterfamilias – the high expectations which everyone – especially his family - places on him.

Side Responses: 

You're lucky, i hate my boss, and him me. -- J Gib

He might hate you John, because you're spending too much time lately shooting off all these non-work related e-mails. -- R. Zachowski  

Yeah, he'd want to take me out back and shoot me if he knew about that. -- J Gib

With that kind of boss, you should walk around with one of those old XFL "He Hate Me" jerseys.  Thank God I'm the "Prince of the City" over here and work virtually unsupervised, otherwise I might turn into a wild savage. -- R. Zachowski  

Hey, I'm doing work right now, maybe I should stop goofing around so much in work. -- J Gib

Yeah, with a tall glass of gin and tonic on the rocks at your left hand side!  That's right, I remember that you're a southpaw, John.  I  just got back from a surveillance in  North Newark on a check fraud case we're working, and I'm dying of thirst !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I think I'll be packing a few ice cold Silver Bullets for the ride home tonight. -- R. Zachowski  

Can You Feel the Love

Wednesday June 8, 6:34 PM 

The president of the company buying us out, walked up to my cubicle, looked me in the eye and said, “Rich, cut me some slack, don’t jump ship just yet.” I could only reply, “I’m the curious type, I’ll see what happens.” Guy caught me off guard and I think on my feet like I’m flat on my ass. I don’t know where all this love is coming from, when you don’t get much love, you are wary like an alley cat being offered shrimp and cream. You think there is a monster hiding behind the kitty bowl luring you into your torturous doom.

Maybe I'm an idiot, but at least in the mistake I made above, I'm a happy idiot. Told the guy, "don't do that to me, you fuck, tell me you quit and here I am feeling bad cause I thought you got whacked."

Joe Official

Thursday, June 9, 10:24 AM

From a strictly observational standpoint around here, it’s a hilarious study of human nature, the coming merger. It’s like the meteor-hitting-the-earth movie, everyone’s running around like Japs hauling ass from Godzilla. One particular strategy is for people to make everything they do seem important, making sure they are calling attention to themselves doing work, the better to make themselves seem useful in hopes that somebody, somewhere is noticing this and will spare them the wrath of the tsunami.. So you have people putting toner cartridges with amazing fanfare, going the extra yard to make sure there is no spillover toner.  Even the most mundane work-related conversations (“I have to go to the post office for a client receipt”) are taking on the gravity of arms control negotiations as participants attempt to advertise their importance. Especially in conversations with, near, or in earshot of the Big Guy, people are acting very “Joe Official” speaking formally and keeping focused on business. Laughter, usually the lighthearted balm of the soul, is forced and issued sparingly, the better to convey the impression that we are doing important things here, very important things, and it’s not time for jocularity or frivol. Most of the time, these serious-minded converts are the same jokers who went around doing whatever they felt like, causing the company undue expense and misery. So it’s fun to watch them sweat, in time the fun will turn to pity, even sympathy. But for now, it’s “Enjoy the Show.” 

A few days ago, when the top head of the holding company which is going to run A-P-T or whatever it becomes, this guy is different from the president of the company who will replace A-P-T at this location, the really top guy was in my boss’s office with the door closed. The head of our Sales department, not a bad guy but a guy on about 2 milliliters of ice vis-à-vis the merger, he comes by my desk in an imploring manner, asking me to make sure the top guy doesn’t leave without him having a chance to say hello (in hopes of ingratiating himself, doubtless). So he goes away. A few minutes later, my boss’s door opens, out comes Top Guy and he starts walking down the hall toward the exit. I look across the department and spot our Sales guy, and gesture to him that Top Guy is leaving. Sales guy, an executive in his own right, practically hurdles the cubies and shoves staff out of the way in his efforts to get to Top Guy. He catches Top Guy and I can hear him say, “Hi, Robert! Robert! It’s Jack E, you remember me? How are you, good to see you, etc!!” 

I am a championship caliber toadying, and it is always a real treat to see someone who has lorded over you and taken advantage of your toadying, it is always fun to see that person grovel like a beaten dog. Hallelujah the world is turned upside down; in effect, rightside up.

13 Steps

Thursday, June 9, 2005 4:08 PM

That banging noise you are hearing is the carpenters putting up the scaffold; at present I can't tell whether it will ultimately be a guillotine or if they'll hang a rope up there. I told them to make sure it has 13 steps like its supposed to. It's getting quite antsy over here, climactic and cataclysmic. If the building had more than 2 floors, I'm sure there'd already be people who can't hack it taking flight.

The barbarians are at the gates over here, the Earth-color people, they are here and they ain't going nowhere. The mass graves are being readied, the body bags are coming onto the loading dock....

Barbarians In the Gates

Tuesday June 14,  4:23 PM 

The barbarians are not AT the gates, they are IN the gates. They are gleefully perusing the soon-to-be-sacked printing plant, plotting nefarity and overall decomposition and re-education. My boss mentioned that him, and the CFO and head lawyer at the News are making all of the decisions now, Morty the Mighty Mogul has washed his hands of this outfit. This place is a straw hut and Hurricane Barton is in Newark Bay, gathering force….I’m surprised we have not seen open fisticuffs yet, I’m doing my best to foment this kind of completely aberrant, completely rational behavior. I just hope we don’t have any closet gun kooks who want to test fire their toys. I’ll jump right through a window I hear gunpops up front. 

Even though I’m not going to walk the plank necessarily, I am doing some lite resume tossing to keep myself honest and to not get too comfy in my belief I will ride out the storm. You can never ever trust anything anytime anyplace when it comes to the workplace, you must consider everyone SNITGEE, “snakes in the grasslands.”


Rome Burns Furiously

Friday, June 17, 7:53 am

Given the horrendous state of affairs here at APT, I can report that last year I had my gall bladder ripped out, this year it’s my heart & soul. Yesterday, I suffered the indignity of having to get lunch for the Ernst & Young gunslinger accountants and lawyers that were here on behalf of the barbarians, combing through our belly-button lint to pass muster on whether this carcass is worth purchasing for rock-bottom pricing. Our VP of Finance asked me to do it, I did it, but afterwards I told him that today, they are on their own. I am only here today to watch the ongoing deterioration and outright folly as this company rots into the sunset. I will take my boss’s car to the car wash, do a little lite paperwork, but mainly just be my cheerful affable self as Romeburns furiously with all hands consumed therein.


State Fair

Friday, June 17, 9:36 am

It’s like the State Fair over here there are so many people piling in for some fun. We got antsy vendors waiting for word (and overdue payments), forensic accountants, lawyers, transaction analysts, Daily News staff, gawkers, hawkers, bozos, fire-eaters, backstabbers, rumor-mongers, the feebleminded, etc. The only thing we don’t have to my chagrin, is pay-pers. I just casually mentioned to one of the transaction gunslingers sitting in a nearby conference room, I said, “some of us here want you to HURRY UP.” I ain’t buying the fckers lunch though, I will be out of the office at that time. I wonder how long it would take for airport authorities to come get me if I launched my kite up around 1000 feet.

Air Traffic guy 1 (looking out the window): Hey, 2, what’s that up there?

Air Traffic guy 2 (through binoculars): It’s a kite! An American flag kite!

Air Traffic guy 1: Call the PAPD to send someone over there to rattle up the yo-yo who got that thing up there…..guy has too much time on his hands, hell maybe he’s a gayrab mofo we can ship to Gitmo.

Fri, June 17, 10:24 AM 

It’s like in GOODFELLA’S – “Hey shine boy! Where’s your shine box!” Truth be told, the president of the company taking us over, he has a lot of Joe Pesci in him, he’s Joe Pesci with glasses, and certainly with the Napoleanic complex of the shoe-lift wearing of the world. I am making myself scarce around here at lunch, I am not available for shines or snacks today, I may bail early.  


June 17, 12:38 pm

Things are getting sloppy around here. I just glanced at an invoice we are sending to a customer, there was a catering menu accidentally stapled to it. I mean come on!! I can just imagine how accurate the numbers themselves are. There’s an increasingly “let’s wing it” attitude that is clearly discernable from all perspectives. Including, doubtless, our clients. It ain’t Camp Run Amok, it’s Camp Toilet. Things have flushed or are swirling to same. Not even on the rim, totally immersed. From a strictly observational standpoint and applying my silly worldview to the proceedings, I’m waiting for Disgrunted Employee(s) to come shooting down the hall, taking down the whole operation. I’d like to get in a few cheap shots on a few downed scmbgs meself. A few rabbit punches, eye-gouges, groin shots. Bites, hair-pulling and finger-bending and spitting, too. I can’t help emitting an evil chuckle now and again as more buffoonery unfolds. There’s flagrant insubordination, non-responsiveness to needs, the whole gamut of “who gives a fuck-isms.” We have some people allowed to leave at 3pm on Fridays – no one really keeps track, it’s gonna look like an abandoned Hollywood backlot set around here at 3:01pm. “From here to Unemployed Eternity.” What a friggin production.


June 17, 1:22 pm

There is that taut atmosphere of false bonhomie, everybody hates everybody with good cheer and some have the gaunt drawn look of the doomed. It’s not Guantanomo Bay, it’s Gaunt-fire-me Bay. When the time comes, whole departments are going to slaughter, to use Senatorial rhetoric, on “a scale of Ouch-witz, or Stalin’s Gulags,” Vast swaths of obsolete and numberless print automatons marching to the infernal ovens and not for pizza or baked potatoes.

The only thing ducky around here is the quacking quackery that is emanating from the lame duck offices of those “no longer needed.” The level of outright hostility and insubordination would, in a tyrannical regime, result in an instant pistol shot behind the ear. It may come to that yet. I can only imagine next week, one week closer to V-E “Victory for Earthcolor” Day how much the anxiety and accompanying fear and loathing will rise like bad stomach juice. It’s disgusting and compelling, it’s a pony show with nazi-bedecked midgets and mermaids.


June 17, 3:34 pm

As predicted, summer hours for the few means summer hours for the many. This place looks like Chernobyl circa 1986. I love those post-Apocalyptic images of desertion, ennui, alienation, and utter desolation and irradiation. Twilight Zone episodes where there’s like 2 people walking around in the ruins of nucular annihilation, I love that shit. People are discreetly fleeing the parking lot I am appalled at my own presence here, but then, I got a reason to stay, hey-hey. The end of the world, people are taking what they can how they can. Get in some last licks, cause here come poppa. Might as well spend an idyllic spring afternoon crying in your dashboard on the way home, it ain’t getting any better than that. It’s Pink Floyd Animals the sheeps in the chutes.

Treachery and Louche Morals

June 20, 11:35 am

At this point, the president of Barton is running the show here. When he asks for something, people leap like fish-gorging seals to do his bidding. Case in point is Dick Laresch, a/k/a "Rat One" off da boat. I am furiously faxing the new guy documents. My boss knows about it, there's nothing he can do to stop it since anything they ask for, we pretty much have to give them. They are doing a proctologic audit on the company to see if the deal they have in mind makes sense. Trust me, it does, but they have to go through the motions and come up with a price. I have to contain my enthusiasm for saluting the new guy and keeping the shine box neat, I'm giddy at the though of helping him. It makes me feel needed and loved, and employed. I'm still sending out resumes, I'm churning the ugly "help wanted" barrel for scraps. I predict that there will be plenty of fireworks come the FOJ, that's an easy one. The new guy just phoned and is sending an architect over here, they got Big Plans, I get to walk around with them, maybe overhear something useless. I'm happy because Tony Brusko is getting more involved, he gave the new guy his start, and Tony knows good help (Dinkie) when he sees it. Now if only the AC would work! This place is wack!

Man Overboard

Friday June 24, 4:07 PM

I just got off the phone with the presumed president of whatever emerges from the buyout. He was sitting with my old friend Augie and they were busting my chops about what’s going on over here, what rumors I’m hearing, etc. It was appalling that they were doing this, but even they are a little in the dark about what’s ultimately going to happen. My big line of the day to them was, “I could have saved Carl a year if when he first started, I told him there were a bunch of people in this company who think they are immune from the market because Morty would always bail us out. They didn’t care if a job made money or lost money, they just wanted to do things as easily as possible. So I was wrong in not telling Carl that, he coulda been way ahead of the game now and maybe A-P-T could be stand-alone.” Then I paused for a second and said, “And that’s why I’m telling you this immediately.” They both busted out laughing, I think Kenny is on the P. Dickie love train unlimited. When Kenny asked me if I thought some people thought the deal wouldn’t happen, I said, “it will happen, it makes sense.” He liked that: Dickie’s a sensible fellow. He also agreed the deal is going to happen, he was pretty darn certain of that. On the rumors front, I said, “People are asking me stuff all the time, floating trial balloons about what’s going to happen. I tell them, they probably have an overall plan, but until they know how much they paid for the company and actually start seeing what’s what, any plans they have right now are subject to considerable revision.” They really liked that analysis, I think it was just what they’re thinking too.  

It's Over

Monday, September 12, 4:20 PM

In an astonishing and extremely immediate move, Mort on Friday fired my boss, and my boss’s pals the head of Sales, the head of Marketing, and the Production Manager. Total annual salary savings? Over $1MM annually, but there’s still more to go. So who is my boss? None other than my first boss when came here, Nico Brusko of the Staten Island Bruskos. My first choice would have been to get out earlier, out of printing altogether, but this outcome would certainly rank a high second. Meanwhile the deal with Earth-color buying us is now “on hold” I think it will eventually go through. I spoke to their West Orange division head and he said, 30%.

But for now, there is a renewed sense of purpose over here. I am not quite the gayest dolphin in the pool, splashing and leaping with delight, but I SURVIVED. The story starts anew, wherever the heck it may lead, who knows? I wasn’t worried throughout, I was more demoralized. In essence, the Bruskos managed to pretty much cut my boss right out of the picture. They got several million dollars worth of commitment from Morty boy, too boot. I never saw it coming and I’m not sure if my boss did either.

Game Over

Friday, October 28, 11:28 AM

Yipes the sale is done. We are Earthcolor. We laid off, oh, about 60% of 300 employees yesterday, you can do the math it was a bloodbath extraordinaire. Man it gets harder. For today, we are like the Hiroshima survivors, we are gawk-mouthed and dazed. And in my instance, at least, hungover….

How's Things?

11/28/2005 2:34 PM

The sale went through, we have to move a 25K sqft building into about  20K sqft with accompanying offices being moved. I’m being whipped from pillar to post.

We are throwing a lot of Salesperson’s “samples” out. That they have been accumulating for years. I toss the sht, they complain, I tell them we “print beautiful samples everyday.” About 100 people got the axe, and there’ll be more at the end of the year.


Happy New Year's

Thursday, December 29, 2005 3:52 PM

We are WAY WAY WAY behind schedule on moving the digital operations from one building to this building. I am working easy 13 hours a day and Saturday. It can be traced to the original demo work, wherein the guy overseeing the project tried to go cheap and hired a bunch of yo-yos to demo. What should’ve taken 2-3 days took almost 3 weeks. Probably saved a few thousands of dollars, but now we are facing a hard deadline of 1/12 and they are just putting up sheetrock, the ceiling needs to get put in, it’s horrible. We have already moved an entire warehouse from one building to here, now we have to move five digital printing presses – and the work on them never stops. The kind of work these machines do, the customer expectations of fast turnaround, we are VERY BUSY in the printing department, too. I have personally thrown out probably more obsolete computer equipment than existed at Popkin while I was there. It’s a new world, Earthcolor, they’re bigger, they have no monopoly on organization, either.

So yeah, hossy, Happy New Year! I’m exhausted.

No Longer There

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lou, the story is longer than I care to go into right now; I will email you my resume when I can. My offer from Lehman is on hold as they investigate a few of my way past misadventures, none of which should be a showstopper, but you never know. I had a nice  interview with Schering-Plough today, interesting place, I'd go there if I could...